Brad Keselowski once again comes up short at Michigan

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BROOKLYN, Michigan – Tourists are supposed to “Say Yes to Michigan,” but when it comes to winning a Sprint Cup race at his home track of Michigan International Speedway, Brad Keselowski keeps saying “No.”

For the 10th time in his Cup career, the Rochester Hills native – about an hour northeast of MIS – came up short in his own backyard, finishing third in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.

“We didn’t run as well as we wanted to, but we certainly didn’t run poorly,” Keselowski said. “It was a good day, not a great day. Third is nothing to hang your hat on. We have consistency, which is good.

“Unfortunately it doesn’t mean much right now at this time of the year in the sense of points. But it does mean a lot to us in the sense of overall morale and our ability to really make a push as the fall comes for the Chase.”

Keselowski now has three top-five finishes among his 10 starts at MIS: a runner-up and, with Sunday’s showing, two third-place efforts.

“We just didn’t have the speed really all weekend to be a front runner in the sense of contending to win based on speed,” Keselowski said. “But the guys did a great job with execution. I thought we executed really well. We had a lot of good restarts, pretty decent on pit road today, solid strategy.

“(Team Penske teammate) Joey Logano told us, we were talking before the race started, we needed a good blue collar (finish) today, and that’s what today was for us (Logano finished ninth).

“We kind of trudged through it and came away with another top three effort, which is good but not great. We want the wins, especially here at Michigan. That would mean a lot. And we just need a little bit more speed to be able to get there.”

Keselowski will get another chance to break through on his home track – just like Jimmie Johnson did Sunday, finally winning there in his 25th start – on August 17 in the series’ mid-summer return visit to MIS.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race the No. 3 vs. IndyCar stars in Michigan iRacing

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The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).